On Writing Prose-Poems

Prose-poems—as the dual name implies—defy a standard genre classification. I initially embraced prose/poems in graduate school as a collage approach to presenting my work. The form reminded me of how the sound of a rattle shifts the beat, changes the focus, and shakes things (and people) up. By using contrasting language and braiding story threads together, the work can expand beyond any single poem or even the entire collection as each sentence or fragment may reflect an event or even a chapter in the context of a life.

Sunday Picnic

by Jesse Devyn Crowe, excerpt from Autobiography of an Enthusiasmystic, a prose poem collection

Wind across still water sends ripples toward the shore. Baby dolls and Barbie dolls gather dust on shelves. Put your sweater on, you’ll catch a cold. Goddess, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Better to be seen and not heard. Miscast, misplaced, misviewed, mistakes, the story of my life. Poems no one reads, stuffed in a drawer beneath the construction paper, words that seeped out through a crack in my heart –I couldn't bear to throw them away or burn them for that matter.

Always why.

My Aunt Jean introduced me to the treasure found in books, stories of other peoples and lands, an adventure to other worlds. Hamburger Helper turns any dish into a gourmet delight! Loneliness was never the problem; it was the secrets that disturbed me most. Smile for the camera, sweetie. Jung defines individuation as “the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; …the development of the psychological individual… distinct from the general, collective psychology…a process of differentiation….” My mother used to say violet was an old woman’s color, but it was my favorite. P, my name is Pollyanna, my husband’s name is Pinkerton, we live in Plymouth Rock and we pickle peppers. There is magic under water, a change of perception, a soothing silence. The Hierophant smiles as he offers you dogma on a golden platter, a delicate assemblage of shoulds and oughts, laws of deity, society, government. Unhappily, life seems to take more effort than many people want to give. At night, the windows reflect the inside world, rather than the outside world. When the music changes, so does the dance. What would life be like if the measure of society’s success was the health and safety of women and children? Enthusiasmysticism, the pure joy of life. A sudden afternoon breeze, a promise of rain, the smell of ozone, cloud shadows moving across the landscape while distant thunder rumbles. All are called, but few choose to answer. Time flies when you’re having fun. Invisibility was the easy way out; I used to envy those who took it. Apple blossoms flutter to the ground in the May breeze, a soft snowfall in our windblown hair.

Climbing Medicine Mountain isn’t supposed to be a Sunday picnic; it’s an act of courage and faith, a giveaway of almost everything you’ve got, until in the end you become light enough to fly.

Jesse Devyn Crowe